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Common Instacart Scams For Shoppers & Customers

Learn the most common Instacart scams that target customers and Shoppers, and what to do about them.

Key Takeaways

  • Instacart scams target both customers and shoppers through various deceptive tactics.
  • Common customer scams include phishing, fake websites, and unauthorized payment changes.
  • Shoppers face scams like bogus tip promises, fake item complaints, and phishing attacks.
  • Stay vigilant, verify communications, and use secure payment methods to protect yourself.

Understanding Instacart Scams

Instacart is a convenient delivery service that allows people to make orders from multiple stores and have them delivered to their doorsteps.

But if you’re a customer or shopper, you should be aware of Instacart scams to protect yourself from fraud.

Unfortunately, despite the convenience of Instacart, many people found malicious ways to illegally make money by scamming others through the website or app.

Financial loss by having your payment information exposed and shared by the wrong parties, having unauthorized charges, fraudulent transactions, and fake upfront fees can make customers lose trust in the platform.

At the same time, shoppers can be scammed by those who promise tips they don’t deliver or make fake complaints.

They make the platform less appealing to couriers and cost the company money.

This article will raise awareness against these scams for personal and financial safety.

Common Scams Targeting Instacart Customers

Several scams can target customers to steal their financial and personal information and, eventually, their money.

They can also involve using their data in unauthorized activities. Here are some of them.

Phishing Scams Targeting Customers

These are among the most widespread threats on the Instacart platform. They involve using fake emails, texts, and even phone calls to convince customers that Instacart is contacting them.

Phishing Emails and Texts

People receive messages from others who try to convince customers that they work with Instacart.

The messages usually use urgent language, prompting users to enter their payment credentials, log-in data, and personal information.

Using this data, scammers can impersonate customers and make unauthorized transactions after pretending to be them.

Identity theft, financial fraud, and unauthorized access to bank accounts can all happen when you fall victim to these scams.

Customers can also suffer from compromised privacy and even potential harm to their reputation after being linked to fraudulent activities.

Fake Instacart Websites

Tech-savvy scammers use this to trick people into sharing their personal and financial information.

They send links that mimic the official Instacart website, promising a promotion or a discount.

After people share their login credentials and other sensitive information, they’ll realize that they have lost access to their account or there are unauthorized transactions on their credit or debit card.

Scammers spend time creating fake websites that share the same layout, logo, and branding elements of the legitimate Instacart platform.

Customers will end up with financial and personal issues that require legal action to protect themselves.

Delivery Fee Scams

Some scammers will pretend to be Instacart representatives and call unsuspecting customers to tempt them to share their personal information.

They promise free deliveries and other promotions if they provide their financial and personal information.

Scammers can also request upfront payments to make them eligible for special membership programs.

Unfortunately, people who believe these claims usually have their money stolen.

Financially-Related Instacart Scams Targeting Customers

Financial-related scams jeopardize people’s financial security and make them lose their trust in Instacart.

They involve using technology to convince people that they’re using Instacart when they aren’t.

Payment Redirection Scams

Some scammers ask customers to change their payment details for promotions or discounts, but they end up using a fake website.

In most cases, these scams start by receiving a phishing text or email.

The customer will update their payment information for account verification or to receive special rewards.

After entering this sensitive information, people will realize that their credit or debit cards were used without their permission.

Overcharging Scams

Some scammers pose as shoppers to convince people they must pay higher charges.

They exploit the customers’ trust in the platform before realizing that they paid more than they should.

After placing an order, the scammer will add extra items to the cart or change items to make customers pay more. The customer will unknowingly pay this amount.

The scammer will take this money, and the customer will only realize that there are extra charges after revising the receipt.

Common Scams Targeting Instacart Shoppers

Customers aren’t the only ones subject to Instacart scams. Some shoppers will also be scammed by people who try to use the app for unauthorized transactions.

Most Common Scams

Here are some of the most common scams you could deal with if you work as a shopper for Instacart.

Damaged Items

Some customers will claim that they received faulty, damaged, or wrong items to receive a free replacement or a refund.

Upon receiving their orders, they would write a bad review to qualify for compensation.

Unfortunately, these bad reviews will harm shoppers’ ratings. They also affect their performance on the platform and the rewards they’re eligible for, so they can negatively impact their present and future earnings.

Instacart Tip Scam

Although tipping isn’t mandatory, it’s highly recommended. Unfortunately, some customers will lure shoppers with high tips to complete their orders fast and handle them carefully.

Naturally, shoppers will accept these orders and do their best to deliver them on time.

Once delivered, the customers will reduce or even delete the tip, leaving shoppers scammed and disappointed.

They could claim that they canceled the tip because of a mistake with the order, which could impact the shopper’s future earning potential.

Bogus Complaints

Customers can lie about the order status or claim that they didn’t receive all the items they requested or that the shopper didn’t treat them well.

Some people make these false claims to ask for compensation, but these claims harm the app’s reputation and affect shoppers’ ratings.

Wrong Replacement Items

Instacart has a policy that offers customers a replacement when the items they request aren’t in stock.

People have to authorize and approve these replacements, but sometimes they claim they didn’t receive what they wanted.

This way, they can file and get refunded for their orders or some of the items.

Instacart Bots

Some people will use bots to make fake orders or accept them. They can write fake reviews to benefit some shoppers and give them an advantage over others.

Bots can be used to increase someone’s rating on the app, which qualifies them for rewards and promotions.

Phishing Scams That Target Shoppers

Shoppers can also be victims of phishing scams while using Instacart.

Fake Recruitment Offers

Some scammers can pose as Instacart recruiters, asking for upfront payments or fees.

These offers promise lucrative opportunities or promise to accelerate the application process.

Yet, unfortunately, people end up getting scammed, and they realize that they aren’t dealing with real Instacart representatives.

Bogus Job Offers

Some scammers post fake job offers, promising people they’ll work for Instacart and gain a lot of money.

They understand that many people are eager to join instacart’s community, so they ask them for upfront payments or extra fees.

Phishing Attempts

Scammers can send texts and emails to shoppers, asking them for their personal information, disguised as Instacart support employees.

They usually pretend this information is needed for account verification, but they use it for identity theft or fraud.

Instacart Code Scam

Some people came up with this to trick shoppers and steal their personal information.

They send a text or email, prompting shoppers to call a specific number and provide their data for account verification.

Shoppers will realize that they’ve been logged off their accounts or that their earnings were stolen. Scammers can also do illegal actions using the shopper’s account.

Instacart Reactivation Hackers

Some shoppers have their accounts suspended and deactivated for various reasons.

They could receive phone calls or messages from people who claim that they work with Instacart and can help them with their reactivation process for a fee.

Since these shoppers want to gain fast access to their accounts, they will probably pay this money, hoping to start receiving orders soon.

Yet, they usually end up losing access to their accounts, or they could still have deactivated accounts despite paying this cash.

Financially-Related Instacart Scams Targeting Shoppers

Some scammers know how to exploit the vulnerabilities in the payment system of Instacart. These can use various tricks to ask for illegitimate refunds or claim that they received incomplete orders.

Overpayment Scams

Those who engage in this illegal activity usually use stolen cards or fake information to avoid legal consequences. They place an order and pay using the card.

After receiving the order, they claim that they didn’t make the order in the first place or that there were missing or damaged items.

Instacart will proceed to refund them, and they can also consider penalizing the shopper or suspending their accounts.

Some scammers will also request gift cards and promo codes, which make crimes more challenging to detect. The money they stole becomes more difficult to recover.

Instacart will hold shoppers accountable for the missing items, and their ratings will decrease on the app.

This means that their earning potential will be affected. Also, such incidents will affect the app’s reputation among customers.

How to Recognize and Avoid Instacart Scams

Instacart isn’t immune to scams. Unfortunately, scammers keep updating their methods and techniques to make money through the app.

This is why customers and shoppers need to be more alert to avoid being scammed.

Some red flags show that the message or notification is fake. These can help you recognize and avoid potential scams.

  • Receiving a message that asks for money away from the platform’s payment system. Instacart will never ask you to pay through a bank deposit.
  • Messages that redirect you to weird links that don’t look like the Instacart website.
  • Poor grammar, bad spelling, and weird sentences that don’t make sense. These are usually planned and executed by overseas bots.
  • Messages and emails that use a tone of urgency. Instacart won’t urge you to send money or any personal or financial information.
  • Messages that ask you to pay money for discounts, promos, or to have your account activated.

Advice for Customers

Customers are at a higher risk of getting scammed on Instacart. Yet, they can follow these tips to guarantee they’re safe.

Double Check the Sender

Whenever you receive an email or text message from Instacart, double-check the sender.

Make sure that the website is secure before you proceed with any action.

If you suspect something is wrong, report the message and the sender. This will prevent them from contacting you in the future.

Revise the Charges

Regularly review your Instacart order and every receipt you receive. Detect any unauthorized charges or suspicious actions and report them to your credit card company.

If you notice any differences or unauthorized transactions, report them to Instacart.

They’ll review all your financial transactions and could help you with legal proceedings if you head to the police.

Use Secure Payment Methods

Instacart supports several payment methods and encourages users to choose only these secured ones.

Using any unauthorized payment method means that the platform won’t help you if you request a refund or notice fraudulent activity.

The platform also encourages customers not to share any sensitive information.

Instacart will never ask you for payments outside the platform, and won’t ask you to share your banking information.

Advice for Shoppers

Shoppers who get scammed on Instacart can avoid losing money by following these tips.

Verify Job Offers

Instacart will never charge people to hire them as shoppers or couriers. If you receive an email that carries this message, it’s probably a scam.

Before accepting any job offer, ensure you’re receiving it through the official website.

Job offers that ask you for upfront payments or sensitive financial information are fake.

Keep your Login Data Safe

No Instacart employee will ask you for your login info, even if your account is suspended.

So, don’t share your username, password, or any private information with anyone.

To resolve suspension and deactivation issues, employees don’t need this personal data.

Be Cautious of Payment Requests

If you receive a request to process a refund or ask for a payment, head to the website.

Contact support and share the message with an Instacart representative. They’ll verify the message’s source, and probably tell you that it’s a scam.

What to Do If You Encounter a Scam

So, what if you follow all these tips, and still end up scammed on Instacart?

This is common because scammers keep updating their techniques and tactics to scam more people.

As more of their plans get exposed, they work hard to come up with smarter ones to steal money, identity, and other sensitive information.

Instacart advises users to follow these tips if they feel they’re being scammed or they already know that someone scammed them.

Contact Instacart Support

As soon as you sense foul play, contact Instacart support. The employees are trained to handle such problems and will guide you to help you avoid losing any money.

They will clear up any confusion if you think you received a shady message.

You can find the contact information on the app or website to reach a trained customer support employee.

Provide all the Necessary Details

Keep track of all messages and notifications you receive, and report any calls you receive to the support department.

Relevant information like the date and time of the incident will help support employees trace any fraudulent transactions and refund you any money lost by illegal requests.

Follow the Instructions

Listen carefully to whatever the employees guide you to do. These employees have dealt with similar issues reported by other customers, so they can help prevent losing more money.

Provide any additional details they request to stop unauthorized transactions.

Take Further Action

In some cases, support employees won’t be able to help you. This will happen if the person trying to scam you is impersonating you or has access to your banking account.

This means that you must take further action by contacting your bank or payment platform.

They can detect all transactions and highlight the unauthorized ones.

By contacting financial institutions, you prevent access to your banking information so the scammer can’t steal any more money.

At the same time, legal authorities will be able to locate the scammer.

You’ll also have to change your login credentials, like your username and password.

The person using them to access your account will lose access, and they can no longer impersonate you or steal your money.

This will also involve changing the password to your email or other accounts linked to your Instacart account.

Keep an eye on your Instacart, bank statements, and credit card transactions.

This will help you detect unauthorized transactions or suspicious activity after taking the previous steps.

If you still can’t secure your account or banking information, head to the police and consumer protection agencies.

This is an essential step if the fraudulent actions involve criminal activity that can negatively impact your safety and reputation.

Provide all the necessary details and documents to help these legal institutions with their investigation.

Protecting Yourself in the Future

Protecting yourself and your sensitive information in the future is possible by following these tips.

  • Enable two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access to your Instacart and linked personal and financial accounts. This method adds a second layer of protection by requesting a code if someone has access to your username and password.
  • Regularly update your password and make sure that it’s strong and unique.
  • Monitor all your account’s activities and revise receipts and messages. This will help you detect if there were failed login attempts or changes to your payment information.
  • Be cautious of suspicious emails, texts, and calls, and avoid clicking on any links you receive. Don’t download any attachments or provide any sensitive information.
  • Stay informed with the latest scamming techniques and tactics, and read about the latest security practices to keep your account and information safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Instacart Tell Who Used My Card?

No, Instacart won’t know who used your card and has no control over any unauthorized transactions. But, employees can help you detect suspicious activity through the platform, like fake charges.

What is the Instacart Controversy People Are Talking About?

This refers to the case where more than 125,000 Instacart shoppers were granted money after the company classified them as independent contractors.

Final Thoughts

Instacart scams involve stealing someone’s money, personal information, and other sensitive data.

Customers and shippers can be scammed through suspicious emails, texts, and calls by people who try to steal their money or use their cards for unauthorized transactions.

Stay updated with the latest scamming tactics and security practices. Scammers can be smart but you can outsmart them to enjoy a safe experience with Instacart.

Current Version
May 9, 2024
Written By Brett Helling
Update Details This post has been completely re-written from scratch to be more helpful and accurate. The new post has completely replaced the old one.

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